Great reading for young and old!
Read the entire post at, “Men of the West.”
Editor’s note: The following is extracted from Indian History for Young Folks, by Francis Samuel Drake (published 1919)
The Indian’s style of fighting was suited to the forests in which he roamed. The thicket provided him with an ambush, the tree or rock served him as a shield. Each warrior fought “on his own hook,” singling out some individual opponent, and using every stratagem to outwit and overpower him.
Upon one occasion an Oneida Indian, who had placed a rock between himself and two of his Indian pursuers, putting his hat on the end of his gun-barrel, raised it slowly, as if to obtain a sight of his enemies. The ruse succeeded; both Indians fired, the hat dropped, and rushing forward with exulting yells, expecting to secure a scalp, one was instantly shot down, and the other took to his heels for safety.
This kind of warfare made it necessary for the white man to adopt similar methods, and in this way a hardy, active, and self-reliant body of frontiersmen were trained up, who were of the greatest service in the wars waged by the two races. An organized body of these men was employed in the “Old French War.” They were known as “Rogers’s Rangers,” from their commander, Major Robert Rogers. This celebrated partisan, a native of Dunbarton, New Hampshire, was at this time under thirty years of age. Rough in feature, he was tall and well-proportioned, and was one of the most athletic men of his time, being prominent in all the trials of strength or activity in his neighborhood for miles around.
Rogers possessed great presence of mind, intrepidity, and perseverance, and a plausible address, and had in early life acquired great decision and boldness of character. He was versed in all the arts of woodcraft, was sagacious, prompt, and resolute, yet so cautious as to incur at times the unjust charge of cowardice.
These qualities he displayed on many occasions. Once, when in England, a mail-coach in which he was a passenger was stopped by a highwayman on Hounslow Heath. The robber, thrusting a pistol through the coach window, demanded the purses and watches of the occupants. While the others were delivering up theirs, the bold ranger suddenly seized the robber by the collar, drew him by main strength through the carriage window, and bade the coachman drive on. The highwayman proved to be an old offender, for whose apprehension a reward bad been offered by the government.
At a social party of British officers at which he was present, it was agreed by the company that whoever of them should tell the most improbable story should have his bill paid by the others. When his turn came, Rogers stated that his father was shot in the woods by a hunter, who mistook him for a bear; that his mother was followed by a hunter, who mistook her tracks in the snow on a stormy day for those of a wolf; and that he, when a boy, had carried birch-brooms on his back to Rumford, ten miles distant from his father’s house, to be sold, following a path through the woods only marked by spotted trees. The company paid for his dinner, admitting that he had told the “toughest” story. Rogers had only stated the exact truth.
The Rangers were a body of hardy and resolute young men, principally from the vicinity of Amoskeag Falls, New Hampshire, where Rogers had been accustomed to meet them at the annual fishing season, and on whose skill, courage, and fidelity he could implicitly rely. Especially renowned as marksmen, every one of these rugged foresters could hit an object of the size of a silver dollar at a hundred yards. He could follow the trail of man or beast, and endure the extremes of fatigue, hunger, and cold.
They were constantly employed in watching the motions of the enemy, in pursuing their marauding parties, or in cutting off their convoys of supplies, frequently making prisoners of their sentinels at Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Limited in their expeditions to no season, they made, in winter, long and fatiguing journeys on snow-shoes into the enemy’s country, often encamping in the forest without a fire, to avoid discovery, when the ground was covered with snow, and with no other food than the game they could kill during their march. They were the most formidable body of men ever employed in Indian warfare, and in regular engagements proved themselves not inferior to British troops. From frequent contact with the natives, they were familiar with their language and customs, and their French and Indian foes dreaded them with good reason.
Theirs was a hard life, but the excitement and danger attendant upon it gave it a zest that reconciled these hardy foresters to its toils and privations. There was something singularly attractive to the young frontiersman in the free forest life of the Ranger. To him it was a source of no ordinary enjoyment to scour the forest in search of the Indian foe, but to be able to steal upon him unawares, and to return victorious from an expedition against him, was in the highest degree exhilarating and inspiring.